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Can German Shepherds Live Outside? The Pros And Cons

Can German Shepherds Live Outside?

Can German Shepherds Live Outside? Ah, the eternal question that has sparked countless debates among GSD lovers and backyard enthusiasts alike.

As someone who has spent more time with German Shepherds than I care to admit, let me give you the short answer: yes, they can!

But before you rush to kick your furry friend out of the house, join me as we explore the pros, cons, and secrets to keeping your noble shepherd happy in the great outdoors.

Ultimately, whether or not a German Shepherd can live outside depends on the individual dog’s needs and circumstances. So let’s dive in!

Can German Shepherds Live Outside?

Yes, German Shepherds can live outside, but it is not ideal for them to be kept solely outdoors.

German Shepherds are social animals that thrive on human companionship and interaction, so it is generally recommended that they live indoors with their family.

If a German Shepherd is kept outside, it should have access to proper shelter, such as a well-insulated doghouse or a suitable kennel, to protect them from extreme weather conditions.

The shelter should provide protection from rain, snow, heat, and cold temperatures.

Additionally, the area where the dog is kept should be securely fenced to ensure their safety and prevent them from escaping.

Can German Shepherds Sleep Outside?

German Shepherds can sleep outside if they have a suitable shelter that provides them with protection from the elements.

However, it is generally recommended that they sleep indoors with their family.

German Shepherds are highly social animals that form strong bonds with their human companions, and they often feel most comfortable when they can be close to their owners.

Sleeping outdoors can expose German Shepherds to various risks and discomforts, such as extreme temperatures, inclement weather, and potential threats from other animals.

Additionally, leaving them outside overnight may leave them feeling isolated and deprived of the social interaction and security they crave.

If you need to keep your German Shepherd outside at night, it is important to ensure they have a well-insulated and weatherproof doghouse or kennel that provides adequate warmth and protection.

The shelter should be raised off the ground and have appropriate bedding to keep them comfortable. Regular checks should be made to ensure the dog’s safety and well-being.

Can I leave my German Shepherd outside in the rain?

it is generally advisable to bring them indoors during heavy rain or storms.

While German Shepherds have a water-resistant coat, extended exposure to heavy rain can lead to discomfort, lower body temperature, and increase the risk of health issues like hypothermia.

If they need to be outside briefly in light rain, ensure they have access to a covered area or shelter where they can stay dry.

Always monitor their well-being and bring them inside if the rain becomes too intense or if they show signs of distress.

Reasons Why German Shepherds Should Not Live Outside

1. German Shepherds are social animals and need to be around people to feel secure and happy.

German Shepherds are known for their loyalty and affection towards their owners. They thrive on human interaction, love, and attention.

Leaving them alone outside can cause them to become anxious, depressed, or even aggressive.

German Shepherds that live outside without proper socialization may develop behavioral issues such as excessive barking, digging, or chewing.

Moreover, they may not get enough mental stimulation and exercise which can lead to boredom and frustration.

2. Extreme temperatures can be dangerous for German Shepherds, especially in areas with harsh winters or hot summers.

German Shepherds have a thick double coat that provides insulation against cold weather.

However, leaving them outside during harsh winters can still put them at risk of hypothermia or frostbite.

Similarly, exposing them to high temperatures during the summer months can cause heat exhaustion or dehydration.

It is important to provide adequate shelter with proper ventilation and insulation if you must leave your German Shepherd outside for extended periods of time.

3. Living outside exposes German Shepherds to various health risks including parasites, diseases, and injuries from other animals.

Living outdoors exposes your dog to a variety of environmental hazards such as fleas, ticks, worms or other parasites that can cause serious health problems if left untreated.

Furthermore, they are more likely to come into contact with other animals like raccoons or skunks that carry diseases like rabies or leptospirosis which can be fatal for dogs if not vaccinated against these illnesses.

4. German Shepherds are prone to separation anxiety which can lead to destructive behavior when left alone outside.

can german shepherds live outside in the cold

German Shepherds are loyal companions who crave human interaction.

When left alone for long periods of time outdoors without any form of entertainment or companionship they may develop separation anxiety which leads them to engage in destructive behavior like digging holes, chewing on furniture or barking excessively.

Separation anxiety can also lead to aggression towards other animals or people.

RELATED: Can German Shepherds Be Left Alone?

5. Lack of mental stimulation and physical exercise can cause boredom and behavioral issues in German Shepherds living outside.

German Shepherds are highly intelligent dogs that require mental stimulation and physical exercise to stay healthy and happy.

Living outside without any form of entertainment or companionship can lead to boredom which causes them to engage in destructive behavior such as digging, chewing, or barking excessively.

It is important to provide your German Shepherd with adequate playtime, training, and socialization if you must leave them outside for extended periods of time.

RELATED: Why Are German Shepherds So Smart?

6. Lack Of Proper Shelter Can Cause Injuries And Infections

When kept outside without proper shelter, German Shepherds are susceptible to injuries and infections.

For instance, they may develop paw pad injuries from walking on hot or rough surfaces. They may get infected with parasites such as fleas and ticks.

To prevent these issues, make sure your dog has a comfortable and safe place to rest when outside.

Also, ensure that their outdoor area is free of harmful objects like sharp rocks or debris.

7. Increased Risk Of Theft Or Escape

Keeping your German Shepherd outside increases the risk of theft or escape.

This is because dogs left unattended outside can easily become targets for thieves. Moreover, if your dog escapes from its enclosure or leash, it’s at risk of getting lost or injured.

The best way to prevent theft or escape is by keeping your dog indoors whenever possible.

If you must keep them outside, make sure their enclosure is secure and always supervise them during playtime.

8. Joint Problems

German Shepherds are prone to joint problems such as hip dysplasia and arthritis.

These issues can be exacerbated by living outside on hard surfaces such as concrete or gravel.

Hard surfaces put extra pressure on your dog’s joints, which can cause pain and discomfort.

Pet owners who choose to keep their German Shepherds outside should consider providing soft bedding materials such as blankets or dog beds inside their shelter.

This will help cushion your dog’s joints while they sleep.

9. Exposure to Toxins

Outdoor dogs are more likely to come into contact with toxins such as pesticides and chemicals.

These substances can cause serious health problems such as cancer, liver damage, and respiratory issues.

To protect your outdoor German Shepherd from harmful toxins, it is important to use natural pest control methods whenever possible.

Keeping your dog away from areas where pesticides have been sprayed can help reduce their exposure.

Do GSDs Do Well in Cold/Hot Weather?

can german shepherd live outside in summer

German Shepherds can tolerate cold temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit, but they need proper shelter and bedding to stay warm.

German Shepherds are a breed that originated in Germany and were bred for working purposes.

They have a thick double coat that provides insulation against the cold weather.

This coat helps them tolerate colder temperatures than other breeds, but it doesn’t mean they can live outside without any protection or shelter.

During winter months, it’s essential to provide your GSD with proper shelter and bedding to keep them warm.

The shelter should be insulated and raised off the ground to prevent moisture buildup. You can also add blankets or straws inside the shelter to provide additional warmth.

It’s important not to use electric heaters or heat lamps inside the shelter because of fire hazards and potential harm to your dog.

You should monitor your dog’s behavior during extreme weather conditions. If your GSD is shivering excessively or showing signs of discomfort, it’s best to bring them inside until the temperature stabilizes.

In hot weather, GSDs can suffer from heat exhaustion and dehydration, especially if the temperature exceeds 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

German Shepherds are not well-suited for hot climates due to their thick coats.

They’re more prone to overheating than other breeds because their coats trap heat close to their bodies.

Overheating can lead to heat exhaustion, which is a severe condition that requires immediate attention.

To prevent overheating during hot weather months, you should provide your GSD with plenty of shade and cool water.

Avoid exercising your dog during peak sunlight hours when temperatures are at their highest. Instead, schedule walks early in the morning or late in the evening when temperatures are cooler.

It’s essential to monitor your dog’s behavior during hot weather conditions.

Signs of overheating include excessive panting, drooling, and lethargy. If your GSD shows any of these signs, move them to a cooler area and provide them with water.

GSDs with thick coats are more prone to overheating, so it’s essential to provide them with shade and cool water during hot weather.

GSDs have a double coat that consists of an outer layer of guard hairs and an undercoat of soft fur.

This coat provides insulation against cold weather but can cause problems in hot climates.

The guard hairs prevent air from circulating close to the skin, making it difficult for dogs to regulate their body temperature.

To help your GSD cope with hot weather, you should trim their coat regularly.

You can also use a cooling mat or vest to keep them cool during hot weather months.

These products work by absorbing heat from your dog’s body and dissipating it into the surrounding environment.

It’s important not to shave your GSD’s coat because it provides protection against sunburn and insect bites.

Shaving can also damage the hair follicles, which can lead to permanent hair loss.

It’s crucial to monitor your GSD’s behavior and physical condition in extreme temperatures as they may show signs of distress or discomfort.

German Shepherds are resilient dogs that can tolerate extreme temperatures better than other breeds.

However, they’re still susceptible to heat exhaustion, frostbite, and hypothermia if exposed for extended periods without proper shelter or care.

During extreme temperature conditions, you should monitor your dog closely for any signs of distress or discomfort.

Signs include shivering, excessive panting, drooling, lethargy, vomiting or diarrhea.

If you notice any signs of distress in your dog during extreme temperature conditions immediately take action by bringing them inside or providing them with proper shelter or care.

Taking quick action could save their life!

ALSO READ: Can German Shepherds Swim?

Signs Your GSD Might be Getting Too Cold/Hot

Signs of Overheating in Hot Weather

German Shepherds are a breed that can tolerate hot weather, but they are still prone to overheating.

Some signs that your GSD might be getting too hot include excessive panting, drooling, and difficulty breathing.

They may also become restless or agitated and seek out cooler areas. If you notice any of these signs, it’s essential to act quickly to prevent heatstroke.

How to Check if Your GSD is Too Hot

To check if your German Shepherd is too hot, touch their ears and paws.

If they feel excessively warm or hot, it’s a sign that they’re struggling with the heat.

You can also use a rectal thermometer to check their body temperature; anything above 103°F is considered abnormal.

Importance of Providing Shade and Water in Hot Weather

It’s crucial to provide your GSD with plenty of shade and water during hot weather.

Make sure they have access to cool areas indoors or outdoors where they can rest and cool down.

Provide fresh water at all times, preferably in a shaded area so that it stays cool.

Signs of Shivering or Lethargy in Cold Weather

German Shepherds have thick double coats that help insulate them from the cold weather.

However, even with their fur coat, they can still get cold when temperatures drop below freezing.

Some signs that your GSD might be getting too cold include shivering, lethargy, and reluctance to move around or go outside.

How to Keep Your GSD Warm in Cold Weather

To keep your German Shepherd warm in cold weather, make sure they have access to a warm sheltered area such as an insulated doghouse or garage.

You can also provide them with blankets or heated pads for extra warmth while inside the house.

Monitoring Body Heat to Prevent Hypothermia in Cold Weather

Hypothermia is a dangerous condition that can occur when your GSD’s body temperature drops too low.

To prevent hypothermia, monitor your dog’s body heat regularly and bring them indoors if they start to show signs of being too cold.

Signs of hypothermia include slow breathing, lethargy, and shivering.

Can German Shepherds Live Outside in Summer?

Yes, but with proper care and precautions.

German Shepherds are a breed that is well-suited to living outdoors. They have a thick double coat that provides insulation from both hot and cold weather.

However, there are some important things to keep in mind if you want your German Shepherd to be comfortable and healthy.

Provide Access to Shade and Fresh Water

One of the most important things you can do for your outdoor German Shepherd during the summer is to provide access to shade and plenty of fresh water.

This means ensuring that they have a cool place to rest out of direct sunlight, such as under a tree or on a covered porch.

You may also want to consider providing them with a doghouse or other shelter where they can retreat from the sun.

It’s also essential that your dog has access to clean, fresh water at all times.

In hot weather, dogs can become dehydrated quickly, so make sure their water bowl is always full.

You may even want to consider adding ice cubes or freezing their water bowl overnight so that it stays cool throughout the day.

Help Your Dog Regulate Their Body Temperature

Another way you can help your outdoor German Shepherd stay comfortable during the summer is by helping them regulate their body temperature.

One way to do this is by providing them with a cooling mat or pool.

These products work by absorbing heat from your dog’s body and dissipating it into the air, helping them stay cool even on hot days.

You may also want to consider giving your dog a summer haircut if they have an especially thick coat.

This will help prevent overheating and make it easier for them to regulate their body temperature naturally.

Avoid Exercise During the Hottest Parts of the Day

While exercise is important for keeping your German Shepherd healthy and happy, it’s essential that you avoid exercising during the hottest parts of the day.

Dogs can quickly overheat when they’re exercising in hot weather, so it’s best to limit outdoor playtime to early morning or late evening when temperatures are cooler.

Know the Signs of Heatstroke

Finally, it’s important to be aware of the signs of heatstroke and take action immediately if you notice any symptoms.

Some common signs include excessive panting, drooling, lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea.

If you suspect that your dog is suffering from heatstroke, move them to a cool place immediately and offer them water.

You should also seek veterinary care right away as heatstroke can be life-threatening if left untreated.

Tips for Helping Your GSD Stay Warm in the Winter

can i leave my german shepherd outside at night

1. Provide a warm and insulated shelter for your GSD to stay in during the winter months.

German Shepherds are hardy dogs that can withstand cold temperatures, but they still need a warm and dry place to rest.

As a responsible owner, it’s important to provide your furry friend with a cozy shelter that will protect them from harsh weather conditions.

A doghouse is an excellent option for outdoor living, but it must be well-insulated and elevated off the ground to keep moisture out.

You can also add extra insulation by lining the walls of the doghouse with foam insulation or using straw bales around the outside of the structure.

Make sure there is enough room inside for your German Shepherd to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably.

2. Use straw or blankets to create a cozy bed for your GSD inside their shelter.

Once you have provided an insulated shelter for your GSD, you should add bedding materials such as straw or blankets to help keep them warm and comfortable.

Straw is an excellent insulator because it traps air between its stalks, which helps retain heat.

You can also use old towels or blankets as an alternative bedding material if you don’t have access to straw.

When creating a bed inside your GSD’s shelter, make sure it’s raised off the ground and away from any drafts that may enter through gaps in the walls or floorboards.

Also, be sure to replace any wet or soiled bedding immediately since dampness can lead to hypothermia in cold weather.

3. Consider using a heated dog bed or heating pad to keep your GSD warm.

If you want extra warmth and comfort for your German Shepherd during colder months, consider investing in a heated dog bed or heating pad.

These products are designed specifically for pets and come with temperature control settings so that you can adjust them according to your dog’s needs.

However, it’s important to note that heated beds or pads should never be used as a substitute for proper shelter and bedding materials.

They are merely an additional source of warmth and comfort for your furry friend.

4. Increase your GSD’s food intake during the winter months to help them maintain their body heat.

During the winter months, your German Shepherd will need more calories to maintain their body temperature. Therefore, it’s essential to increase their food intake accordingly.

However, this doesn’t mean you should overfeed them since obesity can lead to health problems in dogs.

Consult with your veterinarian about how much extra food you should be feeding your GSD during colder months based on their age, weight, and activity level.

Make sure they have access to fresh water at all times since dehydration can also affect body temperature regulation.

5. Invest in a waterproof and insulated coat for your GSD to wear outside during cold and wet weather.

If you live in an area with harsh winters or frequent rainstorms, consider investing in a waterproof and insulated coat for your German Shepherd.

These coats are designed specifically for dogs and come in various sizes and styles depending on your pet’s breed and size.

A good quality coat will provide extra insulation against wind chill while keeping them dry from rain or snow.

It will also help retain body heat by trapping air between the fibers of the fabric.

When selecting a coat for your GSD, make sure it fits snugly but isn’t too tight around the neck or chest area.

10 Tips For Keeping a German Shepherd Outside

Here are some tips for keeping a German Shepherd outside:

1. Adequate Shelter

Provide your German Shepherd with a well-insulated and weatherproof shelter that protects them from rain, wind, and extreme temperatures.

The shelter should be raised off the ground and have proper bedding to keep them comfortable.

2. Secure Enclosure

Ensure that your yard is securely fenced to prevent your German Shepherd from escaping.

The fence should be sturdy, tall enough to prevent jumping or climbing, and free from gaps or holes that they could squeeze through.

3. Adequate Water and Food

Always provide fresh and clean water for your German Shepherd. Consider using a spill-proof bowl or an automated watering system.

If you leave food outside, be cautious about attracting pests and regularly clean the feeding area.

4. Regular Exercise

German Shepherds are active dogs that require regular exercise to stay healthy and happy. Provide them with daily exercise sessions, such as walks, runs, or playtime in a securely fenced area.

5. Mental Stimulation

Prevent boredom and mental stagnation by providing your German Shepherd with stimulating toys, puzzle feeders, or interactive games.

Mental stimulation is crucial for their overall well-being.

6. Social Interaction

German Shepherds are social animals and thrive on human companionship.

Make sure to spend quality time with them, provide attention, and engage in activities together. Loneliness can lead to behavioral issues such as clinginess, aggressiveness towards strangers and other animals.

7. Monitoring and Healthcare

Regularly check your German Shepherd for any signs of health issues, such as parasites, skin problems, or injuries.

Keep up with their vaccinations, deworming, and flea/tick prevention. Regular vet check-ups are important for their overall health.

8. Climate Considerations

Be mindful of the weather conditions. In hot weather, provide shade, fresh water, and opportunities to cool down.

In cold weather, ensure adequate shelter, protection from wind and cold, and provide extra warmth if necessary.

9. Training and Boundaries

Train your German Shepherd to understand boundaries and basic commands for their safety.

This includes teaching them to stay within the yard, not to bark or whine excessively, and to respond to recall commands.

10. Regular Interaction

Even if your German Shepherd spends time outside, make sure to regularly interact with them, both physically and mentally. Take them for walks, play games, and provide affection and attention.

Remember, every dog is unique, and their specific needs may vary. It is essential to prioritize your German Shepherd’s well-being, provide them with a safe and stimulating environment, and ensure they receive the necessary care, attention, and social interaction they require.

Are Wild Animals Harmful to German Shepherds?

Domesticated Shepherds vs. Wild Animals

German Shepherds are domesticated animals that have been bred for centuries to work alongside humans as protectors, herders, and companions.

However, despite their impressive size and strength, they may not have the necessary skills to defend themselves against wild animals.

When left outside unsupervised, German Shepherds can become prey to wild animals such as coyotes, wolves, and bears.

It is important to understand that domesticated dogs like German Shepherds do not possess the same instincts or abilities as wild animals.

While a German Shepherd may be able to fend off an attacker with its powerful jaws and muscular build, it is still at risk of injury or death from a larger or more experienced predator.

Protecting Your Shepherd from Wild Animal Attacks

While it is impossible to completely eliminate the risk of wild animal attacks on your German Shepherd when they are outdoors, there are steps you can take to reduce this risk:

  • Supervise your dog: Always supervise your German Shepherd when it is outside. This will allow you to intervene quickly if there is any sign of danger.
  • Install secure fencing: Make sure that your yard is securely fenced to prevent wild animals from entering the area. The fence should be at least six feet tall and buried several inches into the ground to prevent digging.
  • Keep food sources away: Do not leave food or garbage outside where it can attract wild animals. This includes bird feeders, compost piles, and open trash cans.
  • Use deterrents: Consider using motion-activated lights, sprinklers, or noise-making devices to deter wild animals from entering your yard.

Pros and Cons of Keeping a German Shepherd Outside


1. Space and Freedom

German Shepherds are active dogs that require plenty of exercise and space to run and play. Having an outdoor area can provide them with more room to move around and explore.

2. Guarding and Protection

German Shepherds are known for their protective instincts and can serve as excellent guard dogs when kept outside.

They can alert you to potential intruders and provide a sense of security for your property.

3. Less Indoor Cleanup

German Shepherds can shed quite a bit, and keeping them outdoors can help minimize the amount of fur and mess inside your home.


1. Lack of Social Interaction

German Shepherds are highly social animals that thrive on human companionship.

Keeping them outside for extended periods can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, which can negatively impact their mental well-being.

2. Exposure to Weather and Environmental Hazards

When kept outside, German Shepherds are exposed to various weather conditions, including extreme heat, cold, rain, and storms.

They may also encounter environmental hazards such as parasites, pests, and toxic substances.

Proper shelter and protection must be provided to ensure their safety and well-being.

3. Reduced Bonding Opportunities

Living indoors allows for increased interaction and bonding between a German Shepherd and their family members.

It enables them to become more integrated into the household and strengthens the human-canine relationship.

4. Increased Risk of Theft or Escape

When a German Shepherd is kept outside, there is a higher risk of theft or the dog escaping from the property. This can be a concern, especially if the dog is left unattended for long periods.

5. Health and Behavioral Issues

Outdoor living can expose German Shepherds to more health risks, such as parasites, allergies, and respiratory problems.

They may also develop behavioral issues due to insufficient mental stimulation and lack of socialization.

Ultimately, the decision to keep a German Shepherd outside should be based on the individual dog’s needs and circumstances.

It is essential to provide appropriate shelter, social interaction, and mental stimulation to ensure their overall well-being, regardless of whether they primarily live indoors or outdoors.

Have a Quality Shelter for Your Dog with Temperature Control Inside

Why a proper shelter is essential for dogs living outdoors, especially in extreme weather conditions?

Dogs are intelligent animals and can adapt to different environments. However, they need adequate protection from the elements.

German Shepherds have a double coat that provides insulation, but they still need a safe space with temperature control to regulate their body temperature.

A proper shelter will provide your dog with protection from rain, snow, wind, and other harsh weather conditions.

A quality shelter should be well-ventilated and spacious enough for your dog to move around comfortably.

It should also be raised off the ground to prevent moisture from seeping in. The shelter should be sturdy enough to withstand strong winds and other weather-related hazards.


After considering all the factors, it is clear that German Shepherds should not live outside. While they are hardy dogs, they need attention and companionship to thrive.

Leaving them outside for extended periods can lead to health problems, socialization issues, and even danger from wild animals.

It’s important to remember that puppies are especially at risk when left outside due to their vulnerability to temperature changes and lack of socialization.

Even adult dogs can suffer from exposure to extreme temperatures or lack of proper shelter.

If you do choose to keep your GSD outside, be sure to provide a quality shelter with temperature control inside.

Make sure your dog gets plenty of bonding time with you and other pets. Socialization is key for these intelligent and loyal dogs.

In conclusion, while there may be some situations where keeping a German Shepherd outside is unavoidable, it’s important to carefully weigh the pros and cons before making this decision.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can German Shepherds live outside in summer?

While German Shepherds have a thick coat that protects them from cold weather, they do not tolerate hot temperatures very well. Heat stroke is a serious risk for outdoor dogs in the summer months. If you must keep your GSD outside during the summer months, make sure they have access to shade and plenty of water.

What are the health risks of letting my German Shepherd live outside?

German Shepherds kept exclusively outdoors are at risk for several health problems such as hypothermia, frostbite in winter months or heatstroke during hot summers. They also face an increased risk of parasites such as ticks or fleas which can cause diseases like Lyme disease or tapeworm infestations.

Are wild animals harmful to German Shepherds?

Wild animals pose a significant threat to outdoor dogs like German Shepherds. Coyotes and wolves are known to prey on dogs, and even smaller animals like raccoons or skunks can carry diseases that can be transmitted to your dog. It’s important to keep your GSD safe by providing a secure shelter and keeping them supervised when they are outside.

What are some tips for helping my GSD stay warm in the winter?

If you must keep your German Shepherd outside during the winter months, it’s important to provide them with a quality shelter that is insulated and protected from the wind. You should also provide plenty of blankets or bedding material for added warmth. Make sure your dog has access to fresh water at all times.

What are some tips for keeping a German Shepherd outside?

If you choose to keep your German Shepherd outside, make sure they have access to shade and plenty of fresh water. Provide them with a quality shelter that is insulated and protected from the elements. Spend plenty of time bonding with your dog and socializing them with other pets.

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